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Crusading Warfare

Exploring the Military History of the Crusades

William James Hamblin
Peoples Crusade:
Battle of Civitot
21 October 1096
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0 5 10 k Chrysopolis
Civitot Campaign 1096/10/21
Chalcedon The place-name Civitot was also
spelled Civetot, Civitos, Cibotos,
Kibotos. It was located at the
Primary Sources modern village of Hersek in Turkey.

Albert 1.18-22
Anna 10.6.1-6
Gesta 1.2 ( Baldric 1.9-11; Guibert ariu

2.9-2.12 = 48-52; Peter 1.3-1.4 = 16-20; ang

Robert 1.6-14 = 84-88)
Sea of Fulcher 1.6.7; Orderic 9.4-5;

William 1.22-26 Wa
Marmara Helenopolis Sophon


Asbridge 101-103
France 93-95
Frankopan 85-89
Rubenstein 85-89
Runciman 128-133


Ascanian Nicaea



0 2.5 5 km
Turks spread false rumors 1096/10/21

1 1a- Crusaders deceived by spies

[Anna 10.6b] As [Qilich Arslan] knew the Franks' love of money,
he sent for two active-minded men and ordered them to go to
[Peters] camp and proclaim there that the Normans had gained
possession of Nicaea, and were now dividing everything in it.
When this report was circulated among Peter's followers, it upset
them terribly.

1b- By spreading the false rumor that

Nicaea had fallen, Qilich Arslan created
tension in the crusader camp. 1- The
need to send troops to support the
crusaders in Nicaea and secure control
of the city. 2- The desire of the crusaders
in Civitot to hurry as quickly as
possible to Nicaea to share in the

0 2.5 5 km
Crusader War Council 1096/10/21
2- {20 Oct} With Peter absent in in
Constantinople, the crusaders hold a war
council. The commanders advise waiting for
the other crusader armies and more
information, but the mass of ordinary soldiers
want to attack immediately. [Albert 19a]

0 2.5 5 km
Crusaders Advance towards Nicaea 1096/10/21

4 4- Non-combatants left at Civitot [Albert 1.19c]
Only those without weapons and the sick were left behind in the
camp, with countless of the female sex.
3- {Oct 21, morning}
[Albert 1.19b] Without delay, at the first sign of daybreak on the
Wednesday {21 Oct}, throughout the whole camp the knights and 3
foot soldiers were ordered to arm and the trumpeters to sound
the signal blasts, and all to gather together for war. Armed, then,
and all assembled, as many as twenty-five thousand foot soldiers
and five hundred knights in armour set out on the way to the
town of Nicaea in order to provoke Duke [Qilich Arslan] and the
rest of the Turks to war and to join battle with them to avenge
their brother soldiers [who had been killed at Xeriogordon].

0 2.5 5 km
The Turks Advance 1096/10/21


6- {Oct 21, morning}

[Albert 1.19b] Therefore, when they were divided and Wa
organized into six divisions, and assigned to different banners,
they marched on right and left. With Peter absent and knowing
nothing about all this, they had scarcely gone three miles from the
port and post of Civitot, through the aforesaid forest and 6
mountainous regions, boasting and shouting in a clamour and
mighty tumult,

5b- Qilich Arslans Army [Albert 1.17a]

[Qilich Arslan] assembled fifteen thousand
Turks from all Rum and the kingdom of
Khurasan, men of war who were very
experienced with the horn and bone bow
and were very mobile archers.

5 5a- {21 Oct/morning} The Turkish army of

Qilich Arslan marches towards the crusader
camp at Civitot. [Albert 19b]

0 2.5 5 km
Qilich Arslan plans an Ambush 1096/10/21

7- [Albert 1.19c]
When there, suddenly, was [Qilich Arslan] with all his irresistible
company he had entered the same wood from the other side, coming
7 down from the town of Nicaea, so that he would meet the Gauls in their
camp with a sudden attack and put them all to the sword,
Qi unknowing and unprepared as they were, and annihilate them.

Qilich Arslan withdraws to the plains 1096/10/21
8- [Albert 1.19d]
[Qilich Arslan], who had heard the
8 approach and mighty noise of the
Christians, wondered a great deal
what this clamour meant, for
everything the Christians had
decided upon was unknown to him.


9- [Albert 1.19d]
Immediately he realized the pilgrims were there, he spoke thus to his men: Behold, the
Franks against whom we were advancing are at hand. Moreover, you can be sure of one
thing, that they come to fight against us. But let us retreat as quickly as possible from
the forest and the mountainous regions onto the open and level plain, where we may
freely join battle with them and they will not be able to find any place of refuge. This
was all carried out without delay as [Qilich Arslan] had said, and in complete silence they left To Nicaea
the forest and mountainous regions.

0 500 1000 m
Qilich Arslan prepares an Ambush 1096/10/21

10- The Crusaders advance unaware [Albert 1.20a]

The French, however, knowing nothing about
[Qilich Arslans] arrival, were marching from the
forests and mountainous regions with a clamour and
loud shouting.
11a- The Turkish nomadic horse archers are
organized in small warbands without a
10 standard front like infantry formations
which were organized into rank and file. Ive
depicted them as circles rather than ordered
lines, indicating their flexibility of movement
and easy ability to change directions.

0 500 1000 m
Qilcih Arslans Battle Array 1096/10/21

12- Speculation: Most of the Turks could

have been preparing an ambush by hiding
behind the ridge that intervened between
the crusaders emerging from the valley.

11b- [Albert 1.20a]

12 11 Then for the first time [the Crusader] saw [Qilich

Qi Arslans] battle array in the middle of the plains and
waiting for battle.


To Nicaea

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The Knights First Charge 1096/10/21

13b- The two divisions" had

all the knights; however, this
does not imply that the two
divisions were composed
solely of knights. Albert later
says they included infantry.




13a-[Albert 1.20b]
When [the crusaders] saw [the Turks]
they began to comfort each other in the 13c- Crusader knights often charged impetuously when they
name of the Lord, and they sent encountered an enemy. It is quite possible that the Turks sent forward To Nicaea
forward two divisions which contained small bands of horse archers to lure and harass the knights into a
the five hundred knights. charge, after which the Turks feigned retreat. Under the right
circumstances, it could scatter the enemy and lead to victory. In other
0 500 1000 m
circumstances, as here, it could lead to disaster.
The Turks Ambush the Crusaders 1096/10/21

Qi 14

14- [Albert 1.20b]

[Qilich Arslan] saw the two divisions [of crusader
knights] advancing and without waiting he
loosened his horse's reins and his men did the
same, and with an unbelievable and
indescribable shout they astounded and
stupefied the Christian soldiers. Thereupon,
with a hail of arrows the Turks attacked the
middle of the divisions, which were seriously
weakened and scattered and were cut off from
the mass of people following.

0 500 1000 m
Crusader forces are divided 1096/10/21

15- Infantry organizes for battle [Albert 1.20b]

When [the crusader infantry] heard this clashing of
weapons and the cruel pursuit of the shouting Turks,
those at the rear of the army who had not yet come out
of the forest gathered all together on the narrow path by
which they had come, to stand firm and bar the narrow
part of the path through the mountainous regions.
16a- The crusaders charge towards Nicaea [Albert 1.20b]
But the [two] divisions [of the knights] mentioned above, through
whose divided ranks the Turks had made a concerted attack, had
15 no way of returning to the forest and mountainous regions, so they
seized upon the road towards Nicaea.


16 16b- The knights, believing because of

the Turkish disinformation, that Nicaea
is in crusader hands, attempted to flee
the battle and escape to Nicaea.

To Nicaea

0 500 1000 m
Knights second charge 1096/10/21

17a- [Albert 1.20c]

[The crusader knights] quickly turned back from this
[advance to Nicaea], shouting loudly, and rushed
back through the middle of the Turks and, with
horsemen and foot soldiers alike encouraging one
another, they destroyed two hundred Turkish soldiers
in a moment.

17b- With their horses tired, their charge
17 spent, and being outnumbered by the
Turks, the crusaders decide to breakout
back to their infantry. Note the crusaders
have infantry with their force.


18- Speculation: Part of Qilich Arslans

army was probably harassing the
Crusader infantry with archery.
0 500 1000 m
The Turks break the Crusader Charge 1096/10/21

19a- [Albert 1.20b]

The Turks, however, seeing that the strength of
the cavalry was prevailing to the grief of their
own men, had wounded their horses by
shooting them with arrows, and in this way
they reduced Christ's strong champions to
fighting on foot. There died Walter Sansavoir,
pierced by seven arrows through his hauberk
and breast. Reinold of Broyes and Folcher of 19b- Note: 1- The Turks targeting the
Orleans, who were very famous men in their own crusader horses. 2- The power of close
lands, died, destroyed in the same martyrdom, quarter Turkish composite bow archery
but not without a great massacre of Turks. with seven arrows piercing Walters
chain mail. 3- All of the horses of the
crusader knights seem to have been killed
or disabled, since they were reduced
Qi to fighting on foot.



0 500 1000 m
Surviving knights Flee 1096/10/21

20- [Albert 1.21b]

But Walter of Breteuil, son of Waleran, and
Godfrey Burel, the chief of foot soldiers, had
slipped away in flight among the thorn bushes
and thickets and they returned along a narrow
path, where they found all the troop which had
withdrawn from the battle gathered together.



0 500 1000 m
Crusader infantry panic and flee 1096/10/21

21- [Albert 1.20c + Anna 10.6c]

When the soldiers knew of the flight of these two
and their desertion [of the surviving knights and
leaders], they all turned and fled, hurrying towards
Civitot on the road by which they had come, and not
21 protecting themselves adequately from the enemy.


0 500 1000 m
Turkish Pursuit 1096/10/21

22- [Albert 1.21c]

The Turks, therefore, rejoicing at the favourable
outcome of their victory, slaughtered the
wretched band of pilgrims, and they pursued
them for a distance of three miles, to Peter's
Qi encampment, to kill them.


0 500 1000 m
0 2.5 5 km
Turkish Pursuit 1096/10/21

24b- Note: The 23

location of the ruined
castle is unknown. 23- [Albert 1.21c]
[Gesta 1.2d=5] The Turks fell upon his men and
24 killed most of themsome they found asleep,
others naked, and all these they slaughtered.
Among the rest they found a priest saying mass,
24a- 3000 of the crusaders flee to the Qi and they killed him at once upon the altar.
ruins of a [Roman era?] castle. [Gesta


0 2.5 5 km
Plunder of the Crusader Camp 1096/10/21

25-[Albert 1.21c]
Going into the pilgrim camp they found those
who were there, the feeble and crippled, clerics,

monks, aged women, boys at the breast, and put
them all to the sword, regardless of age. They
took away only young girls and nuns, whose
faces and figures seemed to be pleasing to their
eyes, and beardless and attractive young men.
They carried off to Nicaea money, garments,
mules, horses, and anything of any value,
even the tents themselves.

0 2.5 5 km
26 Assault on the Ruined Castle 1096/10/21
26- {21 Oct/evening} Surviving crusaders
27- [Gesta 1.2d=4-5]
request aid from Constantinople. [Albert 22a]
Those who managed to escape [the Turkish pursuit]
27 fled to Kivotos. Some leapt into the sea, and others
Qi hid in the woods and mountains.


28a- Assault on Civitot and the castle

[Albert 1.21d] There is, however, upon the seashore, near the
aforesaid Civitot, a certain ancient and abandoned fortress;
three thousand of the fleeing pilgrims took flight and entered
the ruins in the hope of defending themselves. But they found
it had no gates or barriers, so, such was their desperation and
despair of aid, they used their shields in place of gates, with
an enormous pile of rocks rolled in the entrance, defending
their very lives manfully from the enemy only with spears and
wooden bows, and by throwing rocks.

28b- Assault on Civitot and the castle

[Albert 1.21d] The Turks, seeing that the slaughter of the men
inside was not proceeding very well, surrounded the fortress
on all sides, and as it had no roof they shot arrows high in
the air so that they turned and fell onto the heads and
bodies of those inside and killed the poor wretches; the others
who saw this were forced to surrender. Many were brought
back there who had thus been wounded and killed, but fearing
cruel punishment by the infidels they could not be compelled
to go out, either by arms or for fear of their lives.

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Co Survivors Rescued by Alexios 1096/10/21

29- Alexios rescues the surviving crusaders
[Anna 10.6c-d] But when the Emperor received reliable information of [the
crusader defeat], and the terrible massacre, he was very worried lest Peter
should have been captured. He therefore summoned Constantine Catacalon
Euphorbenus and gave him a large force which was embarked on ships of
war and sent him across the straits to Peter's succour. Directly the Turks saw
him land they fled. Constantine, without the slightest delay, picked up Peter
and his followers, who were but few, and brought them safe and sound to
the Emperor.
[Albert 1.22c] [Alexios] summoned his Turcopoles from all around, and all the
nations under his rule, and ordered them to go with all haste across the
straits to assist the Christians who had fled and were besieged, and there to
overcome and put to flight the Turks from the siege.
[Gesta 1.2d=5] When the emperor heard that the Turks had inflicted such a
defeat on our men he rejoiced greatly, and gave orders for the survivors to be
brought back over the Hellespont. When they had crossed over he had them
completely disarmed.

0 2.5 5 km
Qilich Arslan returns to Nicaea 1096/10/21


30- [Albert 1.22d] On hearing of the

Byzantine approach, and their rescue
of the survivors, Qilich Arslan 30
returns to Nicaea with his booty and

Crusading Warfare
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